Scientists explain new kangaroo fossil from Papua New Guinea

Scientists explain new kangaroo fossil from Papua New Guinea


New kangaroo described - from PNG
Artist’s impression of Nombe Rockshelter megafauna, displaying the Nombe kangaroo on the ideal. Credit rating: Artwork by Peter Schouten

Australian paleontologists from Flinders University have explained a new genus of big fossil kangaroo from the mountains of central Papua New Guinea.

The new description of the fossil kangaroo has discovered that alternatively than staying closely connected to Australian kangaroos, it most likely belongs to a exclusive genus of much more primitive kangaroo found only in Papua New Guinea.

The kangaroo, very first described in 1983 by Professor Tim Flannery, is regarded from fossils all-around 20,000-50,000 decades old. They occur from the Nombe Rockshelter, an archaeological and paleontological site in Chimbu Province, Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Nombe is previously regarded for numerous extinct species of kangaroo and big 4-legged marsupials referred to as diprotodontids.

Flinders University researchers have renamed the animal Nombe nombe, just after the site of its discovery—and program to return to PNG for further excavations and analysis up coming 12 months.

The squat, muscular Nombe lived in a various montane rainforest with thick undergrowth and a shut canopy. Right here, it evolved to take in the difficult leaves from trees and shrubs, with a thick jaw bone and sturdy chewing muscle groups.

A lot of the animal everyday living of New Guinea is minor-recognised outside the island, regardless of its colour and distinctiveness. This discovery breathes some new everyday living into the exploration of New Guinea’s faunal heritage.

New kangaroo described - from PNG
Flinders College palaeontology researcher Isaac Kerr with an Australian kangaroo jaw bone, and an Australian megafauna fossil jaw employed in the most current Royal Modern society analyze. Credit score: Flinders College

“The New Guinean fauna is fascinating, but really number of Australians have a lot of an thought of what is essentially there,” claims Flinders paleontology Ph.D. candidate Isaac Kerr.

“There are several species of substantial, extensive-nosed, worm-feeding on echidna that are still all around now, several distinctive wallaby and possum species that we never get in Australia, and additional nevertheless in the fossil document.

“We assume of these animals as remaining uniquely Australian, but they have this intriguing other existence in just New Guinea.”

Utilizing 3D imagery and other technology, the researchers have examined stays from the PNG Museum and Art gallery. They now think that the species may well have evolved from an historical variety of kangaroo that dispersed into New Guinea in the late Miocene epoch, about 5-8 million decades back.

Through that time, the islands of New Guinea and mainland Australia had been linked by a “land-bridge” owing to decrease sea ranges, rather than separated by the flooded Torres Strait as they are currently. This “bridge” permitted early Australian mammals, including several huge extinct kinds, to go into the rainforests of New Guinea.

When the Torres Strait flooded all over again, nonetheless, these populations of animals turned disconnected from their Australian kin, and so progressed separately to match their tropical, mountainous PNG house.

Nombe is now regarded the descendant of 1 of these historical lineages of kangaroos.

New kangaroo described - from PNG
3D render of the PNG kangaroo fossilized jaw bone applied in the new Flinders College analyze. Credit score: I Kerr, Flinders University

Sporadic paleontological perform was undertaken there by American and Australian researchers in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, considerably of which resulted in intriguing discoveries of extinct megafauna. On the other hand, no paleontological digs have taken position there considering the fact that the early ’90s, a problem the Flinders College scientists seek out to solution.

Co-author on the new Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia post, Flinders College Professor Gavin Prideaux, states the investigate will develop many thanks to a grant from the Australia Pacific Science Basis.

“We are extremely thrilled to undertake a few paleontological digs at two unique websites in jap and central PNG in excess of the next three a long time,” he suggests.

“We are going to be working with the curators of the Papua New Guinea Museum and Artwork Gallery and other contacts in PNG, with whom we hope to build some nearby fascination in New Guinean paleontology.”

Quokka-sized fossil species exhibit kangaroos evolving to eat leaves, for the fourth time

Extra facts:
A new genus of fossil kangaroo from late Pleistocene New Guinea, Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia (2022). DOI: 10.1080/03721426.2022.2086518

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Researchers explain new kangaroo fossil from Papua New Guinea (2022, June 28)
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